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THE AMOROUS INTRIGUES AND
ADVENTURES OF AARON BURR
Introduction by Fender Tucker
Most Americans, when asked what they know of Aaron Burr, will answer, “I dunno. Wadn’t he the guy what killed Alexander Hamilton in a dool?” The rest, the ones who read Gore Vidal’s 1973 “novel”, Burr, will say, “Wasn’t he that likeable rogue who was always right, when everybody else in that period of history was wrong?”
In other words, nobody really knows who the real Aaron Burr was. And now, with the republication of the 1860 edition of The Amorous Intrigues and Adventures of Aaron Burr, the story of this fascinating man becomes even more deliciously murky.
Ordinarily, an introduction will provide some provenance for its book, but in this case all that is known is that it’s one of about 35 “rich, rare and racy” novels offered by an anonymous press. The following page shows you a list of the titles, suggesting that many are translations, and all tend to appeal to the reader’s prurient interests.
RICH, RARE AND RACY READING. [from 1860]
Attention is called to the following Catalogue of cheap Publications, just issued. These books are got up different from anything of the kind ever offered to the public. They are all handsomely illustrated with Colored Plates, which have only to be seen to be appreciated.
La Tour De Nesle; or, The Amours of Margurite of Burgundy.
The Amours of a Quaker; or, the Voluptuary.
The Loves of Byron, his Intrigues with Celebrated women.
Merry Wives of London; a Picture of Licentiousness of the Court.
The Chevalier; a thrilling tale of Love and Passion.
The Mysteries of Bond Street; or, the Seraglios of Upper Tendon.
The Amorous Adventures of Lola Montes.
Adventures of a Sofa; or, Drawing-room Intrigues.
Marie de Clairville; or The Confessions of a Boarding School Miss.
Flora Montgomery; or, The Factory Girl’s Adventures.
The Bridal Chamber and its Mysteries.
Anna Mowbray; or, Tales of the Harem.
The Gay Deceiver; or, Man’s Perfidy and Woman’s Frailty.
Dissipation; or, Crime and its consequences.
Julia King; or, The Follies of a Beautiful Courtezan.
The Irish Widow; or, The Last of the Ghosts.
Harriet Wilson; or, Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure.
Madeline, the Avenger; or, Seduction and its Consequences.
Paul the Profligate; or, Paris as It is.
Adventures of a Country Girl; or, Gay Scenes in my Life.
Simon the Radical; or, The Adventures of a Bonnet Rogue.
Amelia Moreton; or, Life at a Fashionable Watering Place.
The Countess; or, My Intrigues with the Bloods.
Venus in Boston, an exciting tale of City Life.
The Adventures of a Libertine.
Evil Genius; or, The Spy of the Police.
Sharps and Flats; or, The Perils of City Life.
The Lame Devil; or, Asmodeus in Boston.
Demon of Gold; or, the Miser’s Daughter.
Kate Montrose; or, The Maniac’s Daughter.
The Wedding Night; or, Advice to Bridegrooms;
Secret Passions; plain five plates.
N. B. —In press Ten new French translations by a new author, (said to be superior to Paul De Kock,) with colored illustrations.
Copies sent by mail, free of postage. [We wish.]
Alas, the edition you hold in your hand does not contain the “color plates” that made these books sell, and probably prompted the conception of scores of our ancestors. But all words from the original are intact, and contained herein. Surely they helped.
The re-emergence of this saucy telling of Burr’s life inspires one to compare its information with that found in the standard text for modern Burrphiles, the Vidal book. One would expect to find many of the same historical figures, particularly the figures that Burr had intrigues and adventures with, but in fact, there are only three women mentioned in both books: Margaret Moncrieffe, Mrs. Blennehesset and Burr’s wife, Theodosia Prevost.
Moncrieffe’s role is the most interesting of the three. According to Vidal, Burr met the precocious, 13-year-old “disagreeable child” at a party. She baited General Washington—whom Vidal seems to feel needed some needling—but displeased Burr from the beginning. When he later noticed her using a telescope on the roof, he asked her a few pointed questions about it and then turned her in to the General as a spy. Years later she claimed that Burr was the “first to take her virginity.”
The Moncrieffe story, as you will see in chapters XI and XII, is told quite differently by Anonymous.
As for Mrs. Blennerhesset, she is described as a terrific housewife by Vidal, and by Anonymous as all that—and a bit more.
Theodosia Prevost is glossed over by both authors. Apparently the consensus in 1860—as well as in 1973—is there is little intrigue or adventure inside the sanctity of marriage. They’re probably right.
Every generation has its pornography and there are some good arguments for the proposition that more can be gleaned about a society from its pornographers than from its historians. Perform the experiment yourself: read this book and then Vidal’s, and see which strikes you as the more likely. You may be surprised.
 Except the current generation, those born since 1980. There hasn’t been any good porn written in the past two decades, probably because young people get off on pictures much better than on the printed word, and also because the traditional words that used to be reserved for porn are now bandied about by all authors, even soccer mother authors and romance writers. Luckily, there are gonzo publishing houses like Ramble House who are dedicated to seeing that the great porn written prior to the Reagan Debacle will not disappear.
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